Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Letting passion permeate professionalism

I think people are far too buttoned up in life.  

Now, to be entirely clear, I might be the most critical person in the room when it comes to advocating awareness and application of basic professional etiquette. (While I am especially critical of women - and am unable to whole-heartedly interact with four inch heels, short skirts, heavy make up or cleavage - I also take it personally when folks use poor grammar, fall apart in interviews, or gossip.)

That aside, once you've got the basics down and can interact with other people on a sufficiently appropriate level, loosen up. We don't laugh enough at work. We should laugh. And hug. And, when our colleagues ask about our weekends, we should talk about it genuinely - over lunch rather than hovering over the coffee pot. 

I was in a hot yoga class tonight, and as I was holding a pose and otherwise trying to focus on my breathing, a thought crossed my mind:
does the instructor (who was male and not un-hot himself) find women in his class attractive?

My first thought, in response, was: ohh, KG! That’s so unprofessional.

My second thought, however, was:  well, jeez, he certainly should! 

So then I got to thinking (which you’re not supposed to do in yoga to begin with; I find that this is the most difficult part of my practice)... we are all, at our core, real people. We all have biases, emotions, and - yes - chemistry that drive our decisions in life, including our professional paths.

So while I don't want my yoga instructor copping a feel as he adjusts my pose or sitting around comparing notes with fellow yogis, I also asked: is he supposed to shut down his normal, human elements? Of course not. He should celebrate them. I think that someone who's devoted his life to physial wellbeing, bodies and form should truly and deeply appreciate them.


He should let himself enjoy the elements of his work that led him to it in the first place.
He should let himself operate as a human being, and indulge his human tendencies.
We all should.

Letting passion trump professionalism makes our work more rewarding; we allow ourselves to operate according to our inner truths rather than the rules by which our work is governed, the former of which is more closely aligned with our happiness.

It's the doctor who tells her terminal patient: skip the treatment; spend your last few months at a beach home with your children.

It's the teacher who takes the child of an unhappy home under her wing.

It's the airport employee who refuses to load an emaciated dog onto a flight. (And gets fired for it.)

It's everyone who lets instincts trump instruction; who lets their own feelings come to their surface and who surrenders to their need to be human.

It's all of us, on the inside; it should be more and more of us, in practice.

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